This giant R2D2 is actually an observatory

first_img Now playing: Watch this: $47 Mentioned Above Sphero R2-D2 0 Sphero R2-D2 2019 sci-fi and geeky movies to freak out about See it Amazon $46 2:15 See It Target Star Wars Professor Zitt recruited a small team that included his father-in-law, Horst Helle, the master painter Klaus Ruffing and student volunteers to transform the university’s domed-topped Zweibrücken Observatory into a giant version of the Star Wars astromech R2-D2. While the Star Wars makeover took place in September 2018, fans around the world have just started to take notice. center_img Preview • Sphero just made the best R2-D2 robot ever Tags CNET may get a commission from retail offers. The round dome head of the Star Wars astromech droid R2-D2 is about the same shape as the top of most observatories.  Lucasfilm If you’re going to be lecturing at a university about Star Wars and other popular sci-fi movies, you might as well leave your mark in the geekiest way possible.That’s exactly what Professor Hubert Zitt did while teaching at the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany.  See Star Wars Lego Millennium Falcon sets over nearly 20 years 17 Photos Share your voice Post a comment Even Star Wars actor Mark Hamill tweeted about it on Friday with the caption, “R2-D2 Observatory Transformed Germans Into Giant Nerds.”This isn’t the first university observatory to get a Star Wars makeover. Minnesota’s Goodsell Observatory at Carleton College was made to look like R2-D2 back in 2010. TV and Movies R2-D2 Observatory Transformed Germans Into Giant Nerds https://t.co/s4vUwKGxEP via @LaughingSquid— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) March 22, 2019last_img read more

Hearing arguments in Khaleda case to continue

first_imgBNP chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia appears in a Dhaka court on Wednesday. Photo: BNPThe court will continue hearing the arguments in the graft case against BNP chairperon Khaleda Zia.Her lawyer Abdur Rezzak Khan began presenting arguments in the Zia Orphanage Trust case at the Special Judges Court-5 at Alia Madrasa ground in old Dhakaon Wednesday.”It is an unsubstantiated, illogical and fabricated case,” the lawyer told the court.Hearing of the arguments ended for the day at 1:40pm and Khaleda Zia left the court at once.The former prime minister appeared at the court at 11am as Wednesday was set for placing agruments by the lawyers of the accused.The lawyer of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the plaintiff of the case, completed his arguments on Tuesday.The prosecution sought maximum punishment for the BNP chief, Khaleda Zia, and others in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.Lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajal presented the arguments in favour of ACC. He told the court that the prosecution had been able to prove the charges beyond any doubt.During the quasi-military regime of Fakhruddin Ahmed in July 2008, the ACC filed the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case accusing Khaleda, her eldest son Tarique Rahman, and four others of misappropriating over Tk 21.0 million that had come as grants from a foreign bank for orphans.During the regime of the current prime minister and Khaleda’s arch-enemy Sheikh Hasina in 2011, the ACC filed another case – the Zia Charitable Trust graft case – against Khaleda and three others allegedly for abusing power to raise funds for the trust from unknown sources.last_img read more

Texas House Approves 202021 Budget Plan With Extra 9 Billion For School

first_img$2 million for state mental hospital improvements, which includes funding to plan the construction of new hospitals in the Panhandle and the Dallas area. Share Nearly $2 billion to reimburse school districts, state agencies and universities for costs they took on after Hurricane Harvey Emree Weaver / The Texas TribuneTexas House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas, R-Richmond, talks with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on March 27, 2019, as the House took up the budget debate.In Dennis Bonnen’s first major test as speaker of the Texas House, the chamber he oversees resoundingly passed a $251 billion budget Wednesday after a long but largely civil debate — a departure from the dramatics that have typically defined such an affair.Though lawmakers proposed more than 300 amendments to the spending plan, Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, and his chief budget writer, state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, finished the night with their budget plan largely intact. After 11 hours of relatively cordial discussion, lawmakers agreed to withdraw the vast majority of their amendments or move them to a wish list portion of the budget, where they are highly unlikely to become law.The budget passed unanimously on the final vote. The legislation, House Bill 1, now heads to the Senate, whose Finance Committee was set to discuss its budget plan Thursday.“I’m proud of where we are in the bill that we are sending to the Senate,” Zerwas said at the end of the marathon debate. “Each and every one of you should be incredibly proud of the work that you’ve put in here.”The two-year spending plan’s highlight — a $9 billion boost in state funding for the public education portion of the budget — remained unchanged. Of that, $6 billion would go to school districts, and the remaining $3 billion would pay for property tax relief, contingent on lawmakers passing a school finance reform package.The budget plan would spend $2 billion from the state’s savings account, commonly known as the rainy day fund, which holds more than $11 billion.“I’m not here to compare it to previous sessions,” Bonnen told reporters after the House budget vote. “But I’m here to tell you we had a great tone and tenor tonight, and I’m very proud of the business that we did.”Some of the more contentious budget proposals floated by lawmakers never reached the floor. An amendment from state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, for example, would have asked members to vote on the issue of across-the-board pay raises for public school teachers. Such a proposal has divided the Legislature this session, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Senate in favor and much of the House opposed. Raymond withdrew his amendment Wednesday evening, saying he planned to bring up the issue again when the House debates its school finance bill.Bob Daemmrich for the Texas TribDebate on HB1, the House state budget bill, continues into its 12th hour as State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Dallas, shows the strain of a long night. March 27, 2019.A proposal from state Rep. Mayes Middleton, R-Wallisville, to prohibit disaster recovery dollars from benefiting noncitizens and “illegal aliens” was quietly withdrawn after sparking controversy earlier this week. Across the aisle, state Rep. Jessica González, D-Dallas, withdrew her amendment that would have required Gov. Greg Abbott’s office to prepare a report on domestic terrorist threats posed by white supremacists.Bonnen worked behind the scenes in the days preceding the vote, House lawmakers said, in the hopes of avoiding the discord that has erupted during the chamber’s marathon budget debates in past sessions. On Tuesday, top lieutenants for Bonnen met for a handful of informal gatherings to offer concessions in exchange for lawmakers dropping some of their more controversial amendments, according to people familiar with the meetings.The result was one of the shortest budget debates in recent memory. Lawmakers gave preliminary approval to the two-year spending plan minutes after the clock struck midnight. Under former House Speaker Joe Straus, lawmakers in 2017 and 2015 went home well into the morning, after several explosive exchanges between Straus’ allies and the chamber’s hardline GOP membership.“This budget night is unlike any other I have experienced in my time in the House — both in it’s shorter duration and civil tone,” said state Rep. Matt Krause, a Fort Worth Republican and Freedom Caucus member, in a text message after the debate concluded. “I think Speaker Bonnen deserves the bulk of the credit for creating an environment of civility and decorum. This is how the Texas House should operate when debating the big issues for the state of Texas.”Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneRep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, addresses the house floor during budget night at the State Capitol on March 27, 2019. About $1.3 billion to shore up a system that pays out teacher pensions, contingent on the passage of a pension reform bill, which includes $658 million from the state savings account to provide a one-time “13th check” made out to retired teacherscenter_img This piece was originally published in The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.  So while Bonnen’s first budget night as speaker was hardly free of controversy — an argument over the effectiveness of the state’s “Alternatives to Abortion” program, for example, derailed movement on amendments for nearly an hour — the occasional spats paled in comparison with those of years past. There were no discussions at the back microphone of lawmakers’ sexual histories, as happened in 2015, and no one had to physically restrain House members to prevent a fistfight over the fate of a feral hog abatement program, as happened in 2017.Still, state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, continued his long-running campaign against the feral hog program. And though the exchange ranked among the evening’s rowdiest, it was more than tame by last session’s standards.State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, again opposed Stickland’s amendment to defund the program, which reimburses local initiatives to eradicate wild hogs. Stickland responded, “Members, although I respect the thoughtful words of Rep. Springer … let’s end this program right here, right now.”Stickland’s amendment failed, with just four votes in favor.In an earlier dustup just before 2 p.m., state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, who led the House budget negotiations over health and human services programs, was seen in a heated exchange with state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano.A few minutes later, Leach proposed an amendment that would allow Texas to expand Medicaid coverage for women up to a year after they give birth. To cover some of the costs, Leach’s amendment recommended cutting $15 million from a program in Abbott’s office that reimburses film and video game makers who work in Texas.Extending postpartum Medicaid coverage “is simply more important and should be a higher priority” than the film incentives program, Leach said.Democrats gathered at the back microphone to oppose the motion, saying the funding should come from elsewhere.“I appreciate that you’re trying to help women’s health,” said state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, who said she supported the film incentives as a job-creation program. “If we found another source, would you create another amendment?”“I’m not going to agree to hypotheticals,” Leach replied. The amendment subsequently passed without a recorded vote after putting Democrats in the awkward position of voicing opposition to a Medicaid coverage expansion they otherwise supported.A more ambitious Medicaid coverage expansion, which would have provided publicly funded health insurance to low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act, failed for a fourth legislative session. The Medicaid expansion amendment brought by state Rep. John Bucy III, D-Austin, was rejected with 66 votes in favor and 80 opposed.Still, Democrats saw some wins Wednesday. For example, an amendment by state Rep. Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, that would require the Department of State Health Services to conduct a study on vaccination rates among children at licensed child care facilities was approved in a 79-67 vote. Another successful amendment by state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, directs the state to come up with a transition plan for when a pot of federal health care safety-net funding, known as the 1115 waiver, dries up in 2021 and 2022.Complicating budget negotiations was news of an updated property tax reform proposal, which was expected to be laid out in committee before the House convened but was instead postponed until after the budget debate. Debate over that updated proposal, which drew opposition from Democrats and hardline Republicans, carried over onto the floor as its author, state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, met with committee members to discuss the high-priority legislation.The debate on the HB 1 ended with a procedural move spearheaded by Turner and Burrows to wrap up the remaining amendments and send them to the wish list portion of the wish list portion of the budget. That section of the budget, known as Article XI, is considered a graveyard for most line items.Passing an amendment to the wish list is “just a way to get you off the main,” state Rep. Yvonne Davis, D-Dallas, said in protest earlier in the evening, shortly before one of her proposals was shot down.Emree Weaver / The Texas TribuneState Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond (right), speaks with Rep. Dennis Paul, R-Houston (left), in the House Chamber on March 27, 2019, the day the House will take up HB1, the 2020-21 budget plan.The two-year budget wasn’t the only spending plan advanced by the House on Wednesday.Lawmakers also approved a $9 billion supplemental spending plan to pay for leftover expenses that aren’t covered in the state’s current two-year budget, mostly for Hurricane Harvey recovery and health and human services programs.A $4.3 billion withdrawal from the state savings account covers the largest share of expenses in the supplemental bill. Another $2.7 billion comes from the state’s general revenue, and $2.3 billion are federal funds.The legislation, Senate Bill 500, returns to the Senate, whose stopgap spending plan approved earlier this month carried a $6 billion price tag.Lawmakers in 2017 underfunded Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled, requiring a $4.4 billion infusion of state and federal funds. The Legislature must pass the stopgap funding bill before the end of May if the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is to be able to pay health care providers on time.The supplemental bill also includes: Nearly $11 million for the Santa Fe Independent School District, which experienced a mass shooting last year that left 10 dead and 13 woundedlast_img read more

Zonta Club Empowers Women with Motown Fun

first_imgBy Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, mgreen@afro.comEven when women weren’t getting as much appreciation as Beyoncé’s modern day anthem, “Run the World (Girls),” with Motown, the Temptations were singing, “My Girl,” and people were “Dancing in the Streets” to the tunes of female powerhouses like Martha and the Vandellas and The Supremes.  Thus when the Zonta Club of Mid-Maryland and Yellow Rose Foundation, two organizations who work to empower women, decided to use Motown as their theme for the annual fundraiser, it was a perfect fit for the cause, underscore for the evening and a fun way to celebrate old school music and traditions all the while uplifting ladies worldwide.Founded 100 years ago, Zonta International is a global network of approximately 29,000 professional members, who work to empower and improve the lives of women through service and advocacy.  Zonta Club of Mid-Maryland, chartered in 2016, serves the same purpose as the international organization and is in its third year of holding a fundraiser in order to further their work.Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy at the Zonta Club of Mid-Maryland and Yellow Rose Foundation annual fundraiser at the Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD on Feb. 16.Yellow Rose Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2017 for educational, health, scientific and charitable purposes to improve the overall livelihood of women primarily through grants, service and partnerships.Zonta Club of Mid-Maryland and Yellow Rose Foundation collaborated to bring Prince Georgians, and those in the surrounding area, an opportunity to dine, dance and spend money on auction items, all for a good cause- women’s empowerment.In its third year of fundraising, Zonta Club decided to go with a fun Motown theme, particularly as the music organization is celebrating 60 years of being in the business. Bellbottoms, afros, bright colors and sequins were in full effect at the fundraiser on Feb. 16 at the Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park.  From 7-11 p.m., guests could shop local vendors, enjoy cocktails, dine with a three-course meal, bid on items, and dance the night away to Motown tunes and other funky rhythms.Tracey Tolbert Jones and Rhonda Caldwell were the official fundraising co-chairs who ensured the night was “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”  Further there were other esteemed honorary chairs who brought a further level of prominence to the illustrious event, including legendary news anchor Maureen Bunyan, celebrated businessman Dr. Tommie Thompson and Prince George’s County State’ Attorney Aisha Braveboy.Braveboy shared why taking part in the fundraising efforts for young women were so important, particularly with Zonta and Yellow Rose Foundation.“It is still challenging in this world, being a woman, but everyday we need that challenge,” she said before quoting a famous activist and artist.  “’You can pray until you think, but unless you get up and do something, God is not just going to put it in your lap,’ and those are the words of Fannie Lou Hamer.  And she is an inspiration to all of us and we all stand on her shoulders.  She was a Civil Rights leader, a leader for women, in particular Black women, who weren’t always recognized in the Women’s Rights Movement.  And she was known for her resilience.  She was threatened, she was harassed, she was shot at and assaulted for standing up for herself, for women and for all of us.  So if she can endure that, we can endure the struggles we face today.  But it’s because of organizations like Zonta International that we’re able to do it together,” the State’s Attorney emphasized.“We need to move forward together, and that’s what Zonta International is all about- elevating women.”After a night of fun for a cause, money is allocated for young women in Prince George’s County and worldwide.“One-third of the fund we send to 12 African countries (one is Madagascar where we do integrated education program) to help stop or delay early child marriage,” Zonta volunteer Maureen Braimbridge told the AFRO.Other funds will be donated within Prince George’s County to contribute towards domestic violence survivors, young women in public affairs and Prince George’s Community College.last_img read more